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The Adventures of Marco Polo (1938)

Approved | | Adventure, Biography, Romance | 15 April 1938 (USA)
Adventurer Marco Polo travels to China, where he finds the Emperor Kublai Khan, court intrigue, danger, and unexpected love.


, (uncredited)


(screen play), (based on a story by)

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Complete credited cast:
Kublai Khan
Chamberlain (as Robert Grieg)
Persian Ambassador
Nicolo Polo


Marco Polo travels from Venice to Peking, where he quickly discovers spaghetti and gunpowder and falls in love with the Emperor's daughter. The Emperor Kublai Khan is a kindly fellow, but his evil aide Ahmed wants to get rid of Kublai Khan so he can be emperor, and to get rid of Marco Polo so he can marry the princess. Ahmed sends Marco Polo to the West to fight barbarians, but he returns just in time to save the day. Written by John Oswalt <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Laughter...Romance...Adventure! (original poster) See more »


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

15 April 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Marco Polo  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$2,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


(copyright length)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film was received poorly at the box-office, becoming the biggest flop up to that time for both Gary Cooper and Samuel Goldwyn; it was estimated that the picture lost close to $700,000. See more »


When Marco crosses a bridge, his party is attacked and his horse is driven over a cliff. A safety wire is clearly visible on the rider. See more »


Chen Tsu: You have never seen food like this before?
Marco Polo: No. What is it? Snakes?
Chen Tsu: No! No, it has been eaten by the poor people in China for generations. We call it 'spah- get'.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: FOREWORD: Marco Polo lived in Venice seven hundred years ago. He was the first European to visit China and write the story of his adventures in that land of magic and mystery.

He was also the first traveling salesman. . . . . . . See more »


Referenced in Slaying the Dragon (1988) See more »


Charming Eyes
Composer unknown
Sung by Ernest Truex twice
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User Reviews

Lavish Hollywood entertainment based on the exploits of the 13th-century famed Venetian explorer
24 April 2013 | by See all my reviews

Gary Cooper plays the role of Marco , a venetian adventurer , in this all star production of Marco Polo's adventures . Young Marco travels to China to help Kublai Khan fight against rebels, headed by his own assistant , with a new invention : gunpowder . Entertaining motion picture about oriental and medieval feats in superb Black and White cinematography and luxurious scenarios . High budget Hollywood production deals with Marco Polo travels from Venice to Pekin , where he falls in love with the Emperor's daughter . Marco (sympathetic as well laconic Gary Cooper) becomes the first traveler to record his visit to the Eastern court of the Emperor Kublai Khan . Once there he possesses his protection to merchandise between China and Europe but he prefers to seek out for more adventures . There Marco falls for gorgeous Princess Kukachin (Sigrid Gurie) . Kublai (Barbier) is a kindly fellow , but his villain aide Ahmed (Basil Rathbone replaced originally cast John Carradine as the evil of a piece) wants to get rid of Kublai Khan so he can be emperor, and to get rid of Marco Polo so he can marry the princess . But Ahmed sends Marco Polo to the West to fight barbarians led by a Tartar chief called Kaidu (Alan Hale Jr), but he goes back just in time to save the day . The Italian explorer rescues the daughter of the Mongol leader Kublai Khan , and meets a hermit (the prestigious silent actor H.B. Warner) who has invented gunpowder . During his adventures Polo is imprisoned and will suffer numerous dangers , adventures and risks ; besides he'll quickly discover many Chinese invents as coal , ¡ spaghetti! and gunpowder , among others .

It's a spectacular adventure and plenty of emotions , action , romance and evocative musical score from Alfred Newman and Hugo Friedhofer . The picture blends far eastern adventures and medieval scenario . This is one of the most bemusing oriental adventure movies ever made and extremely well produced , lush production design and shot in awesome black and white photography from Archie Stout and Rudolph Mate . This juvenile romp is utterly amusing and entertaining though inexactly based on facts . Don't expect historic accuracy from this typical Hollywood product full of adventures , a love story and lots of action . The notorious producer Samuel Goldwyn were more concerned with offering moving and enjoyable amusement than factual information . However , the picture has some actual events such as the attempt conquest Japan by means a fleet that was sunk by strong winds ,thunders and gale . This marked the screen debut of Samuel Goldwyn's protégé Sigrid Gurie, whom he publicly labeled "the Norwegian Garbo , even though she was born in Brooklyn . In fact , by the time the film was released , it had been discovered Sigrid was born from the rather less exotic place of New York . Look out for Lana Turner in her sixth movie making a short appearance , almost extra , as a slave girl , later she recalled in a Gary Cooper biography that her "fancy black oriental wig" had been glued around her face with spirit gum, while she felt extremely uncomfortable in her costumes .

The motion picture was middlingly directed by Archie Mayo who replaced John Cromwell after a few days due to "differences of opinion on story treatment," according to a press release. The film's producer Goldwyn then attempted to rope in William Wyler for the job , but Wyler wanted nothing to do with it, so Goldwyn persuaded John Ford to take over for a few days until he could find a permanent replacement for Cromwell. Archie Mayo was eventually brought in to finish the picture. The film was received poorly at the box-office, becoming the biggest flop up to that time for both Gary Cooper and Samuel Goldwyn; it was estimated that the picture lost close to $700,000 . The flick will appeal to far eastern saga fanciful and Gary Cooper enthusiasts.

Other pictures based on this legendary character are the followings : ¨Marco Polo (1962)¨ by Hugo Fregonese and Piero Pierotti with Rory Calhoun , Yoko Tani and Robert Hundar ; "Marco the Magnificent" by Raoul Levy with Horst Buchhold, Anthony Quinn , Elsa Martinelli ; ¨Marco¨ (1973) by Seymour Robbie with Desi Aznar Jr , Zero Mostel ; the best results to be ¨Marco Polo¨ TV (1982) by Giuliano Montalvo with Ken Marshall , David Warner , F Murray Abraham , Leonard Nimoy ; ¨The Incredible Adventures of Marco Polo on His Journeys to the Ends of the Earth¨ (1998) with Don Diamant , Jack Palance and Oliver Reed ; and ¨Marco Polo¨ (2007) by Kevin Connor with Ian Somerhalder , BD Wong and Brian Dennehy .

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